Insight on the News
Today’s Church Choirs
● In the Sunday services of many large churches today, choir singing is a major feature. Marching up the aisle in white robes, choir members are generally the picture of piety and reverence, singing with religious fervor. But it is quite possible that they do not belong to the church where they sing or, for that matter, even believe in God. Why, then, are they there singing?
An article in the New York “Sunday News” shows that the choir members in most of that city’s big churches sing for money. This is nothing new. Manhattan churches have been paying choir members since the 1920’s. But they were generally members of the church. Today, as the article states, “religious affiliation has absolutely no importance. . . . In any one choir you’re likely to find atheists, agnostics, Catholics, Jews, Protestants and even Zen Buddhists. You could easily see the same singer at synagogue on Saturday, Episcopal services Sunday morning and a Catholic wedding on Sunday afternoon.”
Ancient Mines Found
● Down in the Negev desert, near the town of Eilat on the Gulf of ‘Aqaba, a British-backed archaeological team has located what they call the ‘oldest underground copper mines ever found.’ Described as ‘enormous and sophisticated,’ the mines are believed to date from about 1400 B.C.E. They had air shafts allowing miners to work several hundred feet below the surface. According to the “Sunday Times” of London, analysis of slag samples, made by a Chessington, Surrey, laboratory, showed that the “smelting method then used in Israel was every bit as efficient as present-day techniques in separating copper from ore.” It says the discovery calls for rewriting “the entire pre-history of metal technology.”
Such discoveries may surprise archaeologists, but the Bible shows that, even before the global flood of Noah’s day, men were making tools of copper and iron.—Gen. 4:22.
After 92 Years, a “Saint”
● The Roman Catholic Church finally has an American-born “saint,” known as “Mother Seton.” The official canonization is to take place September 14 in St. Peter’s Basilica when, according to priest Francis X. Murphy, “the pope declares infallibly that Mrs. Seton lived a heroically holy life and is actually in heaven.”
It was ninety-two years ago that Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore first advocated sainthood for “Mother Seton.” Why has the matter taken so long? Priest Murphy says that the process is “long, difficult, and replete with political and financial as well as religious considerations. . . . Immediately behind the decision to canonize Mother Seton is the culmination of a number of pressures, not the least of which is the desire of the Sisters of Charity in the United States to have an officially acknowledged saint as their foundress. There is likewise the ambition of the archbishops of New York [where Mrs. Seton was born] and Baltimore [where she served as a “Mother Superior”] . . . to have ‘one of their own’ raised to veneration on the church’s altars.” As to the costliness, he says that “investigatory teams, advocates, translators, judges, and consultants have to be paid,” and there is the cost of exhuming the body for “identification and relics.”—“The National Observer,” Dec. 21, 1974.
The “New Catholic Encyclopedia” says that those reaching the required “stage of heroic virtue” and canonized as saints are “constituted as intercessors with God for the living and for souls in purgatory,” and hence prayers are to be directed to them.
Very different from all of this, the Bible clearly shows that all anointed Christians were addressed as “holy ones” or “saints” right while they were alive. (See 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1, and Colossians 1:1, 2 in such Catholic translations as the “Douay Version” or the modern “Jerusalem Bible.”) No political or financial pressure was involved. As for intercession, 1 Timothy 2:5 says: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.” And Jesus himself said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”—John 14:6, 14.